South Tahoe softball takes series from Elko, delivers first wins of season
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — In its home debut, the South Tahoe softball team made a strong first impression. The Vikings beat Elko 6-2 on Friday, March 25, at South Tahoe Middle School, delivering their first win of the season led by a dominant performance in the circle from junior Kendra Conard.
“We came out hungry, we scored first, and we had pretty good defense,” Conard said. “It worked.”
South Tahoe (2-4 I-A Northern) went on to take the three-game series from the Indians by splitting a doubleheader Saturday, March 26. The Vikings took the first two games against Elko (6-6, 4-2) after being swept at Fallon a weekend earlier to open the season.
“Fallon was our first time out, so we saw what we needed to work on, what our weaknesses were and what our strengths were,” senior Bailey Barcellos said. “It was definitely our wake-up call, and this weekend was our action weekend.”
In Friday’s home opener, South Tahoe jumped out to an early lead and held on to defeat Elko 6-2. Conard struck out a season-high 17 in a complete game, allowing no earned runs on four hits with two walks. She added a screwball and curveball to her typical three-pitch repertoire against the Indians.
“I just have to go in there and own the game — and that’s what I did,” Conard said. “I was throwing hard and my pitches were moving, but it felt natural and not forced.”
After a three-up, three-down start, the Vikings scored three in the bottom of the first inning to take a lead they would never surrender. Senior Nora Anderson and junior Drue Chapman led off the frame with back-to-back singles, and Anderson came home on a one-out single from Conard. Chapman and Conard later scored on a wild pitch.
In the first three innings, Conard retired nine of the first 11 Elko batters. In the bottom of the third, South Tahoe added to its lead with a pair of runs. Barcellos singled in Anderson with one out and eventually came home on an error to make it 5-0.
“The one who starts off strong is the one who comes out on top,” Barcellos said. “To have us do that was a glimpse of reality for our season. It shows what we’re really capable of.”
The Vikings extended their advantage to 6-0 in the bottom of the fifth when Conard smacked a two-out triple to score Barcellos. At the plate, Conard finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs.
After leaving two runners on base in the fourth and fifth innings, Elko capitalized in the top of the six to avoid a shutout. With runners on second and third and two outs, a dropped third strike led to a Vikings’ error and two Indians runs — but Conard retired the next four batters to close out the victory.
“Winning this game was definitely a statement to our league and to ourselves,” Barcellos said. “Seeing things fall into place was really awesome.”
Anderson finished 2-for-3 with two runs in the leadoff spot, while Barcellos and Chapman each went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run. Junior Samantha Kallas had South Tahoe’s only other hit in the victory.
“The girls kept scoring and making contact,” Conard said. “One after one they made contact and brought the other one in.”
South Tahoe opened Saturday’s doubleheader with a 13-4 victory. The Vikings rode a nine-run first inning to deliver a second straight win over Elko and capture the series.
The Vikings had 12 hits in Saturday’s opener, led by Anderson — the senior went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs. Conard finished 1-for-2 with four RBIs and three runs, with her lone hit an inside-the-park home run.
Barcellos had two RBIs against Elko while Chapman and junior Teeva Chambers added one apiece. In the circle Conard threw her second straight complete game, allowing four runs — three earned — on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
In the series finale, South Tahoe fell to the Indians 23-4 in five innings. Chapman led the Vikings with three hits while Anderson went 2-for-3 to finish the series with seven hits.
South Tahoe hosts Sparks (0-3) in a three-game league series this weekend. First pitch Friday, April 1, is scheduled for 3 p.m. with a doubleheader Saturday, April 2, starting at 11 a.m.
“We’re ready to fight, we’re ready to win, and now the girls are seeing it,” Barcellos said.
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